After another unexpected hospitalization recently, my request was specific. "I don’t feel well, and I don’t wish to entertain. So tell everyone to stay away. That means no hospital visitors." Peggy agreed.

I’ve never understood why, as a society, we’re encouraged to visit the ill. What’s the purpose? Other than immediate family, no one should bother patients who are so sick that hospitalization’s required. Are we expecting some form of entertainment?

I’m not referring to patients who may be on their last leg or in physical rehabilitation homes where they’re sent to complete recuperation. No, I’m simply referring to hospitals, where you go when you’re sick. 

If we fail to call on family and friends at home when they’re feeling fine, why bother when they’re so laid up they need medical care? Perhaps we know something about their condition their doctors don’t know? If so, do we think this is the last time we’ll ever see them?

Think back to the days when you yourself were ill. Remember looking in the bathroom mirror, shocked at the reflection. Not only were you one sick puppy, but you looked the part. Yes, sick you were, but still not ill enough that drastic measures called for hospitalization.

I’ve seen parents bring kids in and tell them to go hug grandpa as if they were trying to make up for lost time when he was well. "Give him a big kiss," they’d say, "and tell him how much you miss him." Nothing wrong with that, but why can’t they write it on paper or a get well card? Unless he’s lost his sight, grandpa can still read.

Kids should never visit hospital patients. In school they pick up germs and viruses from classmates, bring them home and before long the whole family’s infected. Then everyone goes to visit grandma in a place that’s already an incubator of disease. "Surprise, surprise, Grandma. Look what we brought you." Of course, right before they leave they’re sure to tell grandma, "Get well soon!"

It’s bad enough that sick patients are expected to recover on bland, tasteless, institutionalized gruel. We shouldn’t be playing against the odds of expecting entertainment, too. Whenever it happens to me, I simply tell the wife, "You are more than welcome, Honey. Anyone else wanting to visit, give them our home address." 

I once had a hospital roommate whose entire family stopped by after church … all 11 of them. People were standing, kids were fidgety, parents were growling at the kids, my roommate was embarrassed and I was sick; so sick I almost requested that the nurses move me into a private room. Instead, I pulled the curtain closed between us, saying diplomatically, "This will give you folks a bit more privacy with your loved one."

Almost immediately one of the eleven little monsters who tagged along, pulled it back, saying, "Oh he isn’t our loved one. He’s just our neighbor. Why are you here?"

You don’t see it happening so much anymore, but at the time, back in the early 1980s, three of the 11, both parents and an older child, casually lit up cigarettes and smoked away as if it was a common day to day occurrence to do so in a hospital.

I had been suffering from Congestive Heart Failure brought on by viral pneumonia. The sign over the door reading "Oxygen In Use" meant nothing to these knuckleheads. For all they cared, the room could blow up as long as they had their smokes.

So, folks, my campaign platform is, if elected, I will serve … at least until I get a law passed. One that restricts visitation rights for immediate adult family members only. And always allowing Mom’s homemade chicken rice soup to be served.

That ought to sew up the mother, patient and medical staff vote!

Comments may be emailed to: